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Joel Isaac at Imperial College CHoSTM Seminar Tomorrow [Canceled] March 13, 2013

Posted by Will Thomas in Uncategorized.
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Update: I’ve just learned that Joel has had to cancel.  Alas.

I’ve been extraordinarily busy lately, so I haven’t been able to spare time for a post.  Maybe in a week or so I’ll be back up and running.  But, for any Londoners out there, I wanted to plug Imperial College London’s CHoSTM seminar for tomorrow, 14 March 2013, since it’s being given by Joel Isaac of the Cambridge History Faculty.  If you’ve been reading my recent posts on 20th-century social science, you’ll know I’m a big fan.  As usual, it will be in the Seminar and Learning Centre (SALC) on the 5th floor of the Sherfield Building of the South Kensington campus, at 4:00 PM.

Philosophy as a Behavioural Science: Donald Davidson and the Analytic Revolution in Postwar American Philosophy

Abstract below the fold

Abstract: Histories of analytic philosophy in the United States have typically focused on the reception of logical positivism at mid-century.  Such accounts often call attention to the positivist-inspired marginalisation of normative concerns in American philosophy.  In this paper I argue that the reception framework misses the real sources of the analytic revolution in postwar philosophy.  These are to be found in postwar debates about intentional action and practical reasoning.  Those debates were conducted within a transatlantic community of Wittgensteinians, ordinary languages philosophers, logical empiricists, and decision theorists.  Driving this remarkable revival of the philosophy of action was the rapid development of the mathematical and behavioural sciences during World War II and its immediate aftermath.  Some of these changes, to be sure, owed much to the reception and transformation of formal methods in logical analysis such as those pioneered by former members of the Vienna Circle; but they were also animated by normative questions about values, deliberative rationality, and agency.  Indeed, the American contribution to the analytic tradition involves precisely this combination of the formal and the normative in the theory of practical reasoning.  An illustrative application of this new framework for interpreting the analytic revolution is found in early career and writings of Donald Davidson.

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